|Height: 5-09 | Weight: 214 | College: Memphis|
This compactly built athlete is an exceptional open field runner who has proven to be dangerous any time he breaks free around the perimeter. Since becoming the full-time starting tailback in 2003, Williams has ranked among the top five players in the nation in rushing each of the last three years.
Williams was regarded as the premier running back in the state of Arkansas as a senior in 2001 at Wynne High School. He earned All-American recognition from Super Prep, a publication that rated him among the top 25 runners in the nation and also accorded him All-Region honors. He was named the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette 2001 Offensive Player of the Year and was a member of the Associated Press Arkansas Super Team.
Williams rushed for a school single-season record 2,204 yards and 34 touchdowns, averaging 10.4 yards per carry as a senior while leading the squad to the state 4A championship. He totaled 939 yards rushing in four playoff games that year, including 26 carries for 302 yards and six touchdowns vs. Greenwood High.
Williams gained 1,044 yards rushing with fourteen touchdowns as a junior. He picked up Arkansas All-State honors that season. He missed most of his sophomore season with a broken bone in his foot. Williams lettered in track and holds the state 4A record in the 100 meters with an electronically-timed 10.81 seconds. He helped Wynee High to a second-place finish in the 2001 state track championships.
He appeared in ten games as a true freshman at Memphis in 2002. Williams led the team with 684 yards and five touchdowns on 103 carries (6.6 avg), despite starting only three contests. He also averaged 23.3 yards on eighteen kickoff returns.
Drawing comparisons to Hall of Fame tailback Barry Sanders, Williams led the nation in all-purpose yardage (192.09 ypg) and ranked fifth in rushing (130.0 ypg) as a sophomore, but missed close to three games with a right knee ligament tear. He amassed 1,430 yards and ten touchdowns on 243 carries (5.9 avg) and snatched 35 passes for 384 yards (11.0 avg), including three scores. He also returned thirteen kickoffs for 299 yards (23.0 avg) to earn Conference USA Player of the Year honors.
In 2004, Williams again captured Conference USA Player of the Year accolades. He finished second in the nation in all-purpose rushing (185.83 ypg) and third in rushing (162.33), but suffered a right fibula fracture in the GMAC Bowl. He rushed 313 times for 1,948 yards (6.2 avg) and a nation-high 22 touchdowns. He added 18 catches for 210 yards (11.7 avg) and a score, and 72 yards on four kickoff returns.
Even though he sat out the Tennessee game with a mild ankle sprain, Williams went on to lead the nation in rushing, averaging 178.55 yards per game. He broke his own school and Conference USA season rushing records that he set as a junior, as he carried 310 times for 1,964 yards (6.3 avg) and eighteen touchdowns. He gained 78 yards with a score on twelve catches and ranked fourth in the NCAA Division 1-A ranks with an average of 188.6 all-purpose yards per game.
In 44 games with the Tigers, Williams started 36 times. He holds virtually every school and conference rushing, all-purpose yardage and scoring record for a career. He rushed 969 times for 6,026 yards and 55 touchdowns, becoming only the fourth player in Division 1-A annals to rush for over 6,000 yards in a career. He caught 70 passes for 723 yards (10.3 avg) and five scores. Williams also returned 37 kickoffs for 824 yards (22.3 avg). His 7,573 all-purpose yards set a collegiate record and his 362 points scored rank ninth in Division 1-A history.
Positives: Has a thick upper body frame with good muscle development More quick than fast, but can generate an explosive second gear in attempts to elude in the open
Shows great cutting ability to bounce to the outside and is very crisp coming out of his breaks Displays the field vision to easily spot the cut-back lanes and is patient waiting for blocks to develop His low pad level and center of gravity lets him redirect in an instant and he has that jitterbug step needed to hide behind his blocks and burst through the tight seams His quickness off the corner forces defenders to adjust their angles in attempts to pursue Shows enough precision and balance to step in and out of the holes Has natural hands as a pass catcher, showing good adjustment skills to come back for the off-target throws His explosive acceleration allows him to consistently win foot races when breaking into the open.
Negatives: Shorter than ideal and seems to linger too long with minor injuries Has a low pad level, but that prevents him from sidestepping some low tackles and defenders have consistently taking him down when attacking his legs Does not utilize his weight room strength to gain positive yardage on initial contact Needs to do a better job of protecting the ball, as most of his fumbles were caused when the opposition stripped the ball Non-factor as a blocker, as he shows no willingness when asked to lead through the holes and makes only a passive attempt to pick up the blitz Also lacks desire as a cut blocker, looking hesitant to face up and neutralize linebackers at the second level Seems more interested in personal statistics (some question the extent of his mild ankle injury in 2005 that made him bow out of the Tennessee matchup).
Williams has a shorter-than-ideal frame, but demonstrates good muscle tone, especially in his upper body. He is more quick than fast, but has a darting running style that generally makes the initial tackler miss. His balance, low pad level and quickness changing direction will generally see him gain positive yardage on every carry.
Williams is an instinctive runner who shows patience waiting for his blocks to develop. He has a short burst through the holes and very good flexibility to redirect when the rush lanes are clogged. He needs to show a better desire to gain extra yardage when wrapped up and can be tackled at the laces (struggles some to avoid low hits).
His initial step and cutting ability rank with the nation's elite. He demonstrates the field vision to spot cut back lanes and does a very good job of picking and sliding. He seems to have an incredible awareness of his surroundings and while he is not a power runner, he uses his anticipation skills to generate the foot quickness needed to elude. He has the speed to consistently reach the second level and break away on a long run.
His low center of gravity and balance allows him to slip off tackles and break free from the pile, but despite his leg drive and power, does not seem to relish running between tackles. He will also give up along the sidelines at times and is known to throttle down when not involved in the play. Durability issues arise due to the rash of minor injuries that he has suffered, especially when they linger and keep him off the field. Some scouts even question his heart, as he pulled himself out of the 2005 Tennessee game with a mild ankle injury that others might play with.
Williams shows good urgency in his run, but needs to learn how to high-step over low tackles as he can be tripped up some. He is best when he gets a free lane to operate in, as he can be stopped by initial contact. Williams has enough weight room power, but it does not translate to the field when tacklers attack him head on. His vision allows him to spot the seams in attempts to compensate for a lack of physicality in his game.
Williams is best when working around the corners. He is a jitterbug-type of runner whose ability to change direction instantly forces defenders out of their tackling angles. He has the valid feet to move out and elude along the perimeter and the vision to capably read blocks when working in space. He generates an explosive second gear out of his cuts and has a pronounced and visible burst.
Williams is adequate at protecting the ball, but can have it torn out of his grasp at times. He fumbled sixteen times at Memphis, with most coming when the opponent stripped him from the ball (leaves it exposed when carrying in his right hand). He needs to make a more conscious effort to protect the ball, but has shown improvement since his sophomore season.
Williams has good hands and is an adequate route runner. He can explode coming out of his breaks and has enough acceleration to be lined wide in passing situations. He is a pluck-and-snatch receiver who can make the difficult grab, but for some reason, was used mostly on dump-offs as a senior.
As a blocker, Williams is a non-factor. He does not like contact and will simply make passive hits when asked to pick up the blitz or provide pass protection. He is a marginal cut blocker who will need to be prodded in order to perform in this area. He just plays too soft and shies away from contact any chance he gets.
There is no doubt Williams has valid feet as a runner. His problems come when he has to attack the line, as he really prefers to bounce wide and elude rather than take on contact. He is a functional receiver and a liability as a blocker. He has gained a ton of yardage during his career, but has also absorbed plenty of punishment by taking on such a large workload. Some scouts compare his running style to Barry Sanders, but he lacks the courage to attack defenders the way Sanders did.
While most consider Williams the best senior running back in the draft, his lingering minor injuries, poor blocking skills and preference to avoid contact could make this a risky draft pick. Still, he has produced the top three rushing seasons in school history. He proved he can handle a heavy workload, but the mileage on this player is quite high.
Holds the school and Conference USA career-record with 6,026 yards rushing, joining Tony Dorsett of Pittsburgh (6,082 yards, 1973-76), Ricky Williams of Texas (6,279, 1995-98) and Ron Dayne of Wisconsin (6,397, 1996-99) as the only players in NCAA Division 1-A history to gain over 6,000 yards on the ground in a career His 362 points scored not only set Memphis and conference records, but also rank ninth on the Division 1-A all-time record chart Holds the Division 1-A career-record with 7,573 all-purpose yards, breaking the previous mark of 7,206 by Ricky Williams (6,279 rushing, 927 receiving) Produced the top three rushing seasons in school history (1,430 in 2003 ranks third; 1,948 in 2004 ranks second and 1,964 in 2005 is a school and conference single-season record) His 55 touchdown runs shattered the old Memphis record of 36 by Dave Casinelli (1960-63) His average of 6.2 yards gained per rushing attempt topped Paul Gowen's school career-record of 5.4 yards (1969-71) Rushed for over 100 yards in 34 of his 44 games, surpassing the old Memphis record of eleven by Gerard Arnold (1977-99) and the NCAA all-time mark of 33, first set by Archie Griffin of Ohio State (1972-75) and matched by Tony Dorsett His 7,573 all-purpose yards topped the previous school career-record of 3,099 yards by Keith Wright (1974-77).
Earned Walter Camp and American Football Coaches Association All-American honors Finalist for the Doak Walker Award (top running back) and Maxwell Award (nation's top player) semi-finalist Earned All-Conference USA first-team and Offensive Player of the Year accolades for the third-straight year Selected Amateur Athlete of the Year by the Tennessee Hall of Fame Led the nation in rushing (178.55 ypg) and ranked fourth with an average of 188.64 all-purpose yards per game Set school and conference single-season records with 1,964 yards on 310 carries (6.3 avg) with eighteen touchdowns, breaking his own 2004 mark of 1,948 yards Caught twelve passes for 78 yards (6.5 avg) with a score Attempted a pass and recorded 114 points His 2,075 all-purpose yards rank second in school history, behind his 2,230 in 2004 Fumbled four times as a senior Suffered a mild left ankle sprain vs. Alabama-Birmingham that kept him in street clothes the following week vs. Tennessee.
|2005 Game Analysis|
Mississippi Gained 85 yards on 24 attempts and 14 yards on two catches in the season opener It was the only time in 2005 that Williams did not gain over 100 yards rushing in a game.
Tennessee-Chattanooga Exploded for 205 yards on 20 attempts (10.3 avg) with touch-downs of 9 yards in the first quarter that capped a 9-play, 77-yard drive, followed by a 15-yarder and 20-yard jaunt Also had a 3-yard catch.
Tulsa Followed with 30 carries for 223 yards (7.4 avg), including scores of 7 yards in the first quarter, 14 yards in the second quarter and 8 yards in the fourth quarter Fumbled twice, with the opposition recovering one of those miscues.
Texas-El Paso Set a school and conference record with his third consecutive 200-yard performance Rushed 35 times for 236 yards (6.7 avg) and two touchdowns, including a 74-yarder in the third quarter and a game-winning 3-yarder with 0:50 to play in a 27-20 decision Also fumbled once His 236 yards rank fourth on the school's single-game record list (later topped in the Motor City Bowl), topped only by his own 263 yards vs. South Florida and 262 vs. Houston (both in 2004) and Paul Gowen's 260 vs. Tulsa in 1969 Was named Conference USA Player of the Week for his performance.
Central Florida Carried a season-low 14 times, but still managed to total 136 yards Also caught two passes for 16 yards.
Houston On 33 rushing attempts, Williams piled up 198 yards with touchdowns of 35 & 25 yards, but also had one fumble.
East Carolina Collected 226 yards on 39 attempts with a pair of 1-yard scores, but also fumbled once Added a 14-yard reception Earned Conference USA Player of the Week for the ninth time during his career.
Alabama-Birmingham Gained 167 yards on 21 carries, including a long of 76 yards and returned two kickoffs for 33 yards before suffering a mild left ankle sprain.
Tennessee Did not play (ankle).
Southern Mississippi Returned to action with 36 runs for 123 yards and a 4-yard score Also caught a 29-yard touchdown pass from QB Maurice Avery.
Marshall Added 127 yards on 27 tries with a pair of 1-yard touchdowns.
Akron (Motor City Bowl) Closed out his career by setting a bowl record with 238 yards on 31 carries (7.7 avg) Scored three times, running for a 1-yard touchdown in the first quarter, a 2-yarder that capped a 9-play, 75-yard third quarter drive and a 2-yarder in the fourth quarter that Williams set up with a 67-yard scamper to lead the Tigers to a 38-31 victory.
Earned All-American first-team honors from Pro Football Weekly All-Conference USA first-team and Player of the Year Finalist for the John Wooden Cup (2004) Semi-finalist for the Doak Walker Award and Maxwell Award Named Tennessee Player of the Year by the Tennessee Sports Writers Association Led the nation with 22 touchdown runs Ranked third in the country in rushing (162.33 ypg) and second in scoring with 138 points Set a school single-season record (he since broke it in 2005) with 1,948 yards on 313 carries (6.2 avg) His 22 scoring runs shattered the previous school single-season record of fourteen by Dave Casinelli in 1963 Caught 18 passes for 210 yards (11.7 avg) and a score His 138 points scored surpassed the previous Memphis single-season record of 101, first set by Joe Allisdon in 1992 and equaled by Stephen Gostkowski in 2003 Attempted a pass and gained 72 yards on four kickoff returns His 2,230 all-purpose yards broke the old school record of 2,113 by Williams in 2003 Turned the ball over once on three fumbles Ran for over 100 yards in ten contests, including four games with at least 200 yards.
|2004 Game Analysis|
Mississippi Had 37 runs for 118 yards and a 10-yard score, adding 44 yards on two kickoff returns.
Tennessee-Chattanooga Rushed 22 times for 136 yards, including scores of 3, 21 & 8 yards Also snared two passes for 87 yards and a 68-yard touchdown on a toss from QB Danny Wimprine Added 28 yards on two kickoff returns.
Arkansas State Collected 144 yards on 31 tries with a 16-yard touchdown and made three catches for 34 yards.
Alabama-Birmingham Ran 24 times for 92 yards and an 11-yard score.
Houston Tied his career-high with four touchdown runs (24, 39, 3, 3) as he piled up 262 yards (second-best game total in school history) on 33 attempts (7.9 avg) and caught two passes for 19 yards.
Tulane Followed with 19 rushes for 132 yards and scores of 10 & 5 yards Also had a 26-yard reception.
Louisville Produced 200 yards on 26 chances with a 31-yard touchdown and had two grabs for 15 yards, but fumbled twice, with Louisville recovering one of those miscues.
Southern Mississippi Added 225 yards on 32 runs with touchdowns of 4, 6, 48 & 30 yards (30-yarder tied the game at 35-35 with 6:11 left) in a 38-35 decision Had two catches for a 1-yard gain, but also fumbled once.
South Florida Carried 28 times for a school single-game record 263 yards (9.4 avg) and touch-downs of 51 & 44 yards in the season finale.
Bowling Green (GMAC Bowl) Registered 120 yards on 18 attempts and ran for a 31-yard touchdown in the second quarter, but suffered a fractured right fibula.
All-Conference USA first-team and Player of the Year selection CoSIDA Academic All-District Recipient of the New Orleans Bowl Scholar-Athlete Award Led the nation with an average of 192.09 all-purpose yards per game and ranked fifth in the Division 1-A ranks in rushing (130.0 ypg) Led the team with a then school single-season record 1,430 yards on 243 carries (5.9 avg) with ten touchdowns, topping the old Memphis mark of 1,303 yards by Charles Wilson in 1988 Snatched 35 passes for 384 yards (11.0 avg) and three scores Totaled 78 points Returned thirteen kickoffs for 299 yards (23.0 avg) Gained 2,113 all-purpose yards Ran for over 100 yards in ten games Three of his six fumbles were recovered by the opposition Missed the second half of the Cincinnati game and the final two contests vs. South Florida and North Texas (New Orleans Bowl) after suffering a right knee medial collateral ligament tear.
|2003 Game Analysis|
Tennessee Tech Ran 14 times for 61 yards and caught four passes for 135 yards, including scores of 28 & 80 yards from QB Danny Wimprine in the season opener.
Mississippi Added 135 yards with 43 & 20-yard touchdowns on 28 tries and made four catches for 31 yards, including a 19-yard score on a toss from Danny Wimprine, adding 73 yards on four kickoff returns.
Southern Mississippi Rushed 28 times for 158 yards and snared three passes for 24 yards, but fumbled twice.
Arkansas State Had 23 runs for 108 yards and an 18-yard touchdown.
Alabama-Birmingham Totaled 107 yards on 15 runs and 27 yards on five receptions.
Mississippi State Followed with 15 carries for 119 yards, four catches for 40 yards and two kickoff returns for 43 yards, but also fumbled once.
Houston Collected 120 yards on 20 chances with 2 & 21-yard touchdowns and had two catches for 36 yards.
Tulane Ran 21 times for 195 yards, including 3 & 49-yard touchdowns Snatched four passes for 41 yards and returned two kickoffs for 69 yards, but turned the ball over once on a fumble.
East Carolina Gained 137yards with a 4-yard score on 29 tries, but fumbled the ball twice.
Louisville Rushed 27 times for 154 yards and a 17-yard touchdown Made three catches for 25 yards.
Cincinnati Picked up 136 yards on 23 attempts and 75 yards on three kickoff returns before his season came to an end when he tore the medial collateral ligament in his right knee.
Saw action in ten games as a true freshman, missing the Mississippi State contest after suffering a knee sprain vs. Louisville Despite starting only three games, he led the team with 684 yards and five touchdowns on 103 carries (6.6 avg) Caught five passes for 51 yards (10.2 avg) and returned 18 kickoffs for 420 yards (23.3 avg) Gained 1,155 all-purpose yards Two of his three fumbles were recovered by the opposition.
|2002 Game Analysis|
Murray State Made his collegiate debut with 12 carries for 129 yards and a 4-yard score, setting up another touchdown with a 46-yard scamper Also had a 27-yard kickoff return.
Southern Mississippi Rushed 11 times for 105 yards, including a long run of 55 yards.
Tulane Earned Conference USA Player of the Week honors after gaining 166 yards on 18 tries with an 86-yard touchdown Also had a 48-yard kickoff return.
Louisville Gained 20 yards on six rushes, but left the game after he sprained his knee while turning the ball over on a fumble.
Cincinnati Returned to action with a 4-yard touchdown run and 152 yards on six kickoff returns.
Army Carried ten times for 110 yards and touchdowns of 59 & 12 yards.
Texas Christian Fumbled once, but totaled 63 yards on 13 carries and 32 yards on a reception.
1999: Sat out four games during his high school sophomore year with a fractured bone in his foot.
2002: Suffered a mild concussion vs. Mississippi (9/05) Sprained his right knee vs. Louisville (10/08), sitting out the following game vs. Mississippi State.
2003: Suffered a grade III right knee medial collateral ligament tear vs. Cincinnati (11/22), missing the season finale vs. South Florida and the New Orleans Bowl vs. North Texas.
2004: Fractured his right fibula in the GMAC Bowl vs. Bowling Green (12/22).
2005: After a mild left knee sprain suffered vs. Alabama-Birmingham (11/01), he chose to sit out the next game vs. Tennessee.
Campus: 4.52 in the 40-yard dash 390-pound bench press 520-pound squat 380-pound power clean 35.5-inch vertical jump 10'2" broad jump 31-inch arm length 9 1/8-inch hands Right-handed 18/30 Wonderlic score.
Attended Wynne (Ark.) High School, playing football for head coach Donald Campbell
Regarded as the premier running back in the state of Arkansas as a senior Earned All-American recognition from Super Prep, a publication that rated him among the top 25 runners in the nation and also accorded him All-Region honors Named the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette 2001 Offensive Player of the Year and was a member of the Associated Press Arkansas Super Team Rushed for a school single-season record 2,204 yards and 34 touchdowns, averaging 10.4 yards per carry as a senior while leading the squad to the state 4A championship Totaled 939 yards rushing in four playoff games that year, including 26 carries for 302 yards and six touchdowns vs. Greenwood High Gained 1,044 yards rushing with fourteen touchdowns as a junior Picked up Arkansas All-State honors that season Missed most of his sophomore season with a broken bone in his foot Also lettered in track and holds the state 4A record in the 100 meters with an electronically-timed 10.81 seconds Helped Wynee High to a second-place finish in the 2001 state track championships.
Marketing major Son of Sandra and Odell Hill Born 4/25/83 in Little Rock, Arkansas
Resides in Wynne, Arkansas.